DOWNFALL (Der Untergang)
Publicity Stills Courtesy from Cathay Keris Films and Lighthouse Pictures

In German with English Subtitles
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Starring: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler, Heino Ferch, Christian Berkel, Thomas Kretschmann, Michael Mendl, André Hennicke
RunTime: 2 hrs 30 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Lighthouse Pictures
Rating: NC-16 (War Violence)

Release Date: 2 June 2005 (Exclusively at Cathay Cineplex Orchard)

Synopsis :

Berlin, April 1945. A nation awaits its downfall. House-to-house fighting rages in the streets of the capital. Hitler, along with several of his generals and closest confidants, has barricaded himself in the Fuehrer’s Bunker under the Reichskanzlei. Among them is Traudl Junge, Hitler’s private secretary, who doesn’t want to abandon him. While the situation outside escalates – the Red Army is advancing, and in the city’s bomb-scarred districts desperate scenes are unfolding – Hitler experiences the downfall of the Third Reich behind thick bunker walls. Although Berlin can no longer be held, the Fuehrer refuses to leave the city. He wants, as the architect Speer puts it, "to be on stage when the last curtain falls." But Hitler is not on stage. While the full force of the hopelessly lost war crashes down over his people, the Fuehrer stages his final departure. Only hours before their joint suicide, he marries Eva Braun. Instead of the final victory comes the final defeat, but that has also been planned down to the last detail. After Hitler and Eva Braun have taken their lives, their corpses are burned so that they do not fall into the hands of the enemy. Many of his faithful also choose suicide. Goebbels and the remaining generals refuse to comply with the Russians' demand for unconditional surrender. As the situation becomes ever more hopeless, Magda Goebbels poisons her six children before she and her husband take their own lives. Shortly thereafter Traudl Junge and several others manage to escape at the last minute...

Movie Review:

Adolph Hitler, the icon of absolute evil during the World War 2, the dictator who wanted to wipe out the entire Jews population and the man behind the famous gas chamber that was used to speed up the process of extermination. Could there be a human side to this devil? This film that recreates the final hours of World War 2 and the downfall of the last remaining German armies might just change your views on this evil person that we have grown used to.

Downfall presented the version of the War seen from the German perspective, a welcome change in war movie that are always told in the USA or Allied Forces point of views. This film brings the viewers to experience what the remaining soldiers of the German army were going thru when they were losing the wars. This film also showcases the German civilians and how they are caught in between the Russia artillery and the relentless German soldiers. This film also did well in capturing the panic, woes and unweaving loyalties to their leaders of the civilians and soldiers. The excellent part about this film was that it was able to tell the German perspective intimately without promoting Nazism. In fact it sort of put down the cruelty of war and the grief caused by Hitler and his ideals.

The Hitler that I knew was from the documentaries that showcase his frantic raving speeches to his countrymen and the ever-famous caricature of Hitler with his slick lopsided hairdo and that short mustache right underneath his nose. This film will show u a different side of Hitler, a fallen and softer side that the public never really knew.

Bruno Ganz, an acclaim actor in the Germany speaking community, did a great job in bring Hitler to life. His presentation of those lunatic speech-spewing moments felt as though Hitler was right in the room with you. The energy, the passion and madness were so mesmerizing and intimidating at the same time that it’s not hard to see why Hitler was feared and respected at the same time.

Beside the final moments of aggression, Bruno Ganz also touch on the softer side of Adolph Hitler that was rarely seen in public eyes. The moments he shared with his wife, his heart-breaking discovery of betrayal by his trusted aides and the moments he shared with his secretary were a strange discovery and a welcome insight to Hitler’s character. At the end, viewers might find that he was not that evil after all, he was perhaps a man who strongly believe in his cause and went all out for it. Every scene that Bruno Ganz step on to the screen was the best moments of the film and I felt that he should receive at least some recognition for it.

One of the downside of the films was that there were too many characters included to tell the story. Firstly the viewers might get confused with the number of officers that are mention in this film and it also felt that there wasn’t enough build up on those supporting characters to make them more endearing to the audiences. But still those roles were wonderfully cast and in their limited screen time, their performances were still unforgettable and heartfelt.

From the film, I realized that although ultimately what the German army did was wrong but their strong belief and enthusiasm were undeniable. It’s rather sad to see how their aspirations are being crushed and how they fall apart. As I said before, it’s definitely a welcome change from the usual war films from Hollywood and definitely worth catching it.

Movie Rating: B

Review by Richard Lim Jr

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